In the seven years since it was enacted, the Florida “stand your ground” and others like it have become an effective defense for an increasing number of people who have shot others, the Washington Post reports. Justifiable homicides in Florida have tripled, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement data. In the five years before the law, Florida prosecutors declared “justifiable” an average of 12 killings by private citizens each year. (Most justifiable killings are committed by police officers; those cases, which have also tripled, are not included in these data.) In the five years after the law passed, that number spiked to an average of 36 per year.
Neither the state nor Florida's association of prosecutors declares the jump in justifiable homicides to be a direct result of the new law. The state public defender's association does draw that connection, as have advocacy groups opposed to Stand Your Ground laws. The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys argues that Stand Your Ground is not just a technical expansion of the castle doctrine, the ancient legal concept that allows property owners to defend their homes, but rather a barrier to prosecution of genuine criminals. “It's almost like we now have to prove a negative — that a person was not acting in self-defense, often on the basis of only one witness, the shooter,” said Steven Jansen, the group's vice president.